Monday, December 31, 2012

Hogmany 2012

As Barry Manilow sang, it looks like we've made it.  We've lived to celebrate Hogmany once again.

Hogmany is the Scottish end of the year celebration.  Hogmany it's a party, it's fun, so is obviously not of Scottish origin.  Most likely, wandering Norse tour guides searching for warmer winters happened upon the south of Scotland not long after a winter solstice. Believing they were in Miami, the Norse donned masks to protect their fair skin from the harsh Florida sun and took to drink.  Masks, drink....lasses. Word got back home and the annual migration and bacchanal became custom. Never did figure out they weren't in the US.

The festival is as ancient as the hills.  While custom and tradition have evolved, Hogmany celebrations derive from human's need to occasionally let loose.  Deep within the DNA of humans everywhere is the need to break the solitude of the cold months, restoring mental health to those who live close to the land.  The Church of Scotland, which for over 400 years gave Christmas celebrations a miss, reluctantly turned a blind eye to a holiday celebrated on a state holiday.  

My family, a bit to the west of Scotland, didn't need such a flimsy excuse to celebrate.  They partied just because.  The masks, drink...lasses were a lagniappe.

Celebrate hard my friends, you've earned it,  we'll leave the light on for ya.  AND WATCH FOR DEER!!!!!!

Happy end of 2M12 and welcome 2M13.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday night fun

Friday night was the highlight of the Mayberry social season.  The Veiled Prophet once again returned to town with the Queen of Love and Beauty and her court.  The debutante season is now in full flower.

Mrs. T and I celebrated by spending the night with our 3 young charges while their parents partied.

and their little bro Joe.  We had the better time.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Send Santa the bill

One of the givens in life is that the farther responsibility for payment lands from the buyer of a product or service the higher the final cost will be.  A quick call to our insurance company assured me that Santa was at fault for running his reindeer into our car, and whatever the damage, they'd pay. "Just tell us where to send the check" were the claims adjuster's final words.  

I certainly don't recommend that you attempt this at home, so take my word that vehicular damage from hitting a deer at speed is often catastrophic.  Ours wasn't, for which I am eternally grateful. The photos show the visible damage.  Purists can add at least a front wheel alignment to the mix.

We cracked a headlight, bent the hood, have a dent in driver's side fender, and have half a barrel of deer feathers stuck in every seam on the left side of the car.

If I were footing the bill, I'd likely cry a tear or two, utter an oath, and ignore the damage. After visiting the body shop I'm more likely to say "here is an estimate for $3000, send the check to me."  What a sick world.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas miracle 2012 edition

I prefer to celebrate Christmas on Santa's good boy list, while knowing who and where the bad girls on the list are. This year, I began the day on the good list and ended on the bad.  How do you tell Santa you're sorry?  

As a rule of thumb I dislike taxidermy that hasn't been dispatched by the family displaying  it. However, if you've gone to all the trouble and want  a trophy go for it.  In my case, I can't and there's my story.    

After too much Christmas eve cheer, Mrs. T and I arose at 4:30 AM Christmas morning to get my daughter to the airport in time for her 6 AM flight home. The drive was sad, but otherwise uneventful, until when almost home, we met up with Santa returning to the North Pole.  He was as surprised to see us as we him,  until I put a fender upside the backside of one of Santa's famous hitch. 

Mayberry's roadsides are littered with the detritus of mangled cars who've died while battling our giant deer population. Likewise there is steady work for the dead animal removal guy.  We were fortunate that only the car was damaged (barely), Dasher (fatally) and us, not at all.  We drove home with a few new dents and a cracked headlight.  

After a brief nap I wanted to return to the scene and field dress the beast to be able to mount the head but Mrs. T intervened.  She warned the sight of me field dressing one of Santa's team while families passed on their way to church would be shocking, and that having Santa finding Dasher, mounted above the stockings hung with care annually, would jeopardize the whole family's haul.    

I trust your holiday was safer.


Happy Birthday Dad

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Merry

For those looking for something special, I offer this from the vaults.

From our house to yours Merry Christmas,

Toad and Mrs. T

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let us give thanks

Now is my favorite part of the holidays. I love the pre-christmas gathering of the clan, filling up our drafty old house with love, laughter, warmth and the good smells of cooking and baking. A full house makes repeated trips over the river and through the woods to the airport and grocery feel more like adventures than chores. If only it would snow.

This year we've a gained new holiday tradition. #2 son's better half is a Somerset girl. The greatest mince pies I've ever experienced have come from Somerset kitchens. The champion of years past was a dear friend who farms near Taunton. Too bad for him, his pies while forever welcome, are now a distant second place finisher (he took the news stoically) to those from Finn, our new found buddy of the year and his lovely mother (and sisters).

Should you find yourself near Mayberry, of course you are always welcome, but most especially you are invited Monday evening for our annual holiday feast. If you cannot make it this year, we shall remember you in our toast to absent friends. Hopefully, if not this, then next year.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve to each and all, you being here each day is my favorite holiday gift.


Friday, December 21, 2012


We received an invitation this week to attend Mary's birthday party. Mary is a lifelong friend of Mrs. T, and I fell in love with her the moment we met. She hails from Irish stock and could easily be hidden in family photos of my mother and her 4 sisters. Each time I see her I do a double take, forgetting for an instant that she is not my mother.

Can you imagine living to 100 years old? 100 once seemed so old, but Mary is in good health, is optimistic, has few daily life stresses and very little peer pressure. She expects to live many more years and I believe she will. I hope so anyway I enjoy her birthday parties too much.

Until then Happy Solstice. The dark days are over, light the yule log.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Odds without Ends

"IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." - Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice

On this date in 1820 - The state of Missouri enacted legislation to tax bachelors between the ages of 21-50 for being unmarried. The tax was $1 a year. Not unusually, the tax continues to this day, but now it includes women as well and is likely greater than one dollar.  Today they call it "checking the single" box on your tax return.

II.  Perhaps you recall the Christmas eve tradition of the US Air Force's  NORAD (North American Aerospace Command) tracking Santa's journey around the world.  Begun by accident, when a department store printed NORAD's telephone number in a Christmas ad, suggesting you could call to track Santa's progress.  The one child who called was greeted by an airman who played along.  Today, some 1250 Canadian and US volunteers man the phones at 877-HI-NORAD.  

Since 2007 NORAD has partnered with Google Earth to post Santa's movements on-line.  All was well and good until Google decided to go their own way.  Google will now track Santa at Santatracker.  NORAD has now moved to Bing.  You can find Santa via the US Air Force here.

III.  Sometimes a news story leaves me scratching my head.  Yesterday, The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that a University of  Missouri freshman football player was arrested on suspicion of possessing fewer than 35 grams of marijuana, and subsequently was resigned from the team, perhaps to play in Colorado.  According to the Post he was arrested in November for the same offense and fined $200.

A university police spokesman said "the department received a report of a marijuana odor coming from the suspect's room. The suspect told officers he did not have marijuana and would not allow them to search his room.  After obtaining a search warrant, officers returned and arrested the suspect."  (I've replaced the perp's name with "suspect")

Did the suspect truly believe that telling the cops that he was fresh out of smoke and not receiving visitors at that time would end the matter? Why didn't he move his stash elsewhere while waiting for the cops anticipated return? What I find most troubling is did someone in the athletes dorm rat him out?  Matters like this are generally dealt with amicably in-house.

IV. As you are well aware I am not a sports fan, but I find watching the suicide of the National Hockey league compelling.  League management early in the fall touted how last year the league's teams earned US $3.3 billion.  Left unsaid was that 85% of that went to 3 teams, NHL hockey is unlikely this season.

Canadian Broadcasting reported yesterday that surveys in Canada showed that 1/3 of those questioned were still passionate about hockey, 1/3 indifferent and 1/3 have lost interest entirely. I believe that the maximum total US interest lies in 8,000 people in each city with a team.

V. Finally and apropos to nothing, I'm really PO'ed at Lowes.  Thanksgiving weekend I bought a Christmas present from Lowes which they promised to ship the following week, getting to it's intended destination well before Christmas.  Three times they have called me to tell me it's ready for pick up.  Each call was a lie.

The product won't reach the store until mid February.  And I thought I was ahead of the game.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best of Christmas Quotes

I was catching up on world events traipsing English language newspapers around the globe and came across a compendium of the 30 best Christmas quotes in the Telegraph.  I think they missed a few, demonstrated by Ralphie's noticeable absence, but over all the list is pretty good.  Below are several of my favorites.  The rest can be found by following the link. Can you guess who said what?

"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more."

One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.

Santa Clause has the right idea. Only visit people once a year.

'Let's just say that on this day, a million years ago, a dude was born who most of us think was magic. But others don't, and that's cool. But we're probably right. Amen.'

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house/Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.'

'And girls in slacks remember Dad/And oafish louts remember Mum/And sleepless children’s hearts are glad/And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’

'The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.'

'I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.'

'Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white.'

'The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.'

'There ain't no Sanity Clause!'

'Always winter but never Christmas.'

'Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused - in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened - by the recurrence of Christmas.'

'Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we'll be seeing six or seven.'

'Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.'


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Child's Christmas in Wales

Christmas is not my favorite holiday, it's Mrs. T's. I'm not quite Ebeneezer, but I'm easily put off the holiday by inconsequential things. To get me out of my pre-holiday funk, my bride sent me off to visit one of the mid level circles of hell- the mall- with instructions not to return until I shaped up. My heart and good thoughts go out to all who suffer to wait upon our every whim by working retail during this festive season. No one should be made to endure what retail clerks must.

Of course Mrs. T was right. I did come around and I am now enthused with the spirit of the holidays. Christmas isn't about the stuff, it's about memories. Finally, I'm learning to be mindful of the new holiday memories and traditions I create for my loved ones.

I am a sucker though for the memories of my youth. Readings of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales along with Dicken's A Christmas Carol are essential. I hope you like Mr. Thomas's recitation.

Dylan Thomas - A Child's Christmas In Wales by poetictouch


Monday, December 17, 2012

Apparently, it is OK to drop your computer. The trick is to not have it land. I didn't know that earlier, I do now.

So my beloved Toshiba is back home, and I shall return later in the day. Kindle's make for great readers, but are poor blogging tools.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

6th night

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

5th night

The 5th night of Chanukah is known as the darkest night. Why, because it never falls on Shabbat.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

4th night

Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us by his commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukah.

Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe,
Who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.


The Raven

In an attempt to break the cycle of HO HO HO I offer something different, a touch of poetry.  Admit it, you haven't read this poem since high school, although it's surprisingly seasonal though, if December is a season.


The Raven

[First published in 1845]

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Edgar Allen Poe

Monday, December 10, 2012

third night

Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us by his commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukah.

Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe,
Who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.


Holiday Gifts

The most important element necessary for any tradition to flower is repetition. We celebrate annual events each year the same way we always have. Over time the repetition becomes codified, and any deviance from the norm is dealt with. Imagine the December holiday season without multiple airings of Frosty, or the Christmas Carol.

Harder still is to imagine a holiday season without airing reruns of my favorite holiday posts. In real life its called regifting. I hope you this one makes you smile.

Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2nd night

First Blessing over the lighting of the candle...
Blessed are you O L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah lights.

Second Blessing in remembrance of the miracles...
Blessed are you O L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who brought miracles for our ancestors, in those days at this time {of year}.


Merry Sunday


Saturday, December 8, 2012

First night of Chanukah

From our house to yours, Happy Chanukah.

Bomb Sight Project

London, England

As a follow up to Pearl Harbor Day, today we travel to London, specifically to the blitz-7 October 1940 until 6 June 1941, to understand the work of the Bomb Sight Project.  The Bomb Sight Project has created an interactive map and Android app showing the location of every known German bomb to hit in London during the 8 month siege.

red marks show bomb hits in London during Blitz

The interactivity allows searches by street, by borough, by type of bomb. During the the 8 months of the blitz thousands of citizens were killed and over 1,000,000 homes destroyed.  Living in the Tube became a nightly occurrence.

Imperial War Museum photo

Seeing the effects of the bombing seventy years on is still incredibly moving. 


Take a moment to remember John Lennon who died on this date.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Odds and Ends

Pearl Harbor Day

American's are great for remembering slogans;  Remember the Alamo, the Maine, the World Trade Center, yet we often, too soon after,  forget the why of what we are supposed to be remembering.  By now many have forgotten that today is Pearl Harbor Day, "a day that will live in infamy".  The 2 hour raid on the US Navy's Pacific fleet headquarters caused the deaths of 2335 servicemen with another 1143 wounded.

Denny's is the real deal! 

The southern US has a somewhat deserved reputation for culinary decadence. Locals believe that if the food isn't brown, hasn't been fried or served in large quantity it isn't worth eating.  Many of our ubiquitous franchised fast food chains hail from the land of huge/fried, including Denny's, which calls Spartanburg, S.C. home.

Denny's occasionally gets a bad rap for customer service but are working hard to embrace diversity.  To assist their effort to connect with everyone, everywhere they have opened a new flagship store in Las Vegas.   " The diner chain’s newest location will feature a photo booth in which vacationers and locals can pose with trademark Denny’s products. Those photos can be shared instantly on Facebook and Twitter."  Nothing says vacation like a Denny photo.

“We wanted to create a unique experience,” a spokesman said. “We have a lot of interactive features and a lot of things that make this location even more fun.

"For example, the diner has a full cocktail bar. The bar serves, among other items, a bacon-flavored martini.

"In addition, the location has some other only-in-Vegas features, including a wedding chapel. “It’s quite a unique experience... couples can get a cake made out of Denny’s pancake puppies to make their ceremony extra special.

"The new store also has Elvis-themed menu items like King Stack — pancakes with bananas, bacon and peanut butter — and the King Milkshake, featuring the same three ingredients."

If I'm lying I'm dying.

Holiday Shopping

While kicking the tires at the mall I came across "The Gold King" which is billed as "the world's fastest corkscrew".  Perhaps it's a sign of the times, but is knocking off a second or two opening a  bottle of wine really of benefit?

And Finally

From Vanity Fair, and I can't tell it any better than they did.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Who says Canadians aren't fun?

Just in time for the holidays, as a promotional gimmick Pizza Hut Canada has created a unique cologne, sure to be a hit.  According to the Globe and Mail the new, as yet unnamed scent "smells like fresh dough with a bit of spice." What gal wouldn't want to smell like a pizza box?


Monday, December 3, 2012

Hoxton Street Monster Supply

Sadly I found this too late for Halloween shopping but Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has reopened in London and now offers a full range of holiday items for a most discerning clientele.  It's always beneficial to maintain a supply of  tinned fear in your anxiety closet.

Hoxton Street Monster Supply offer a full range of products including impacted earwax, Bah Humbugs as well as the combo pack of various night terrors.  The web site  maintains that they ship only within the UK, and that they refuse magic beans and human sacrifice in lieu of monetary payment.  I suggest the website lies and for money they'll ship anywhere but don't quote me on that.

Ten minutes here and my holiday shopping would be over.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Perhaps you grew up with My Little Pony, maybe your kids did, or you may be among the fortunate few have no idea what I'm talking about. Created in the early '80's, My Little Pony was a line of toy ponies aimed at very young girls. MLP morphed into a television cartoon series of sweet morality tales aimed at those same young girls. The cartoons sold a lot of horses, and died well after its prime.

Since little risk is involved reselling old ideas, and there is always a risk in creating something new, the infotainment establishment recycled My Little Pony with truly horrific consequences i.e. "The Bronie."  Exploring the highways and bi-ways of holiday cheer, I encountered a corral of adult males sporting holiday My Little Pony wear. I had to ask. "We are bronies" came the reply. Bronies or Boy (adult) My Little Pony fans is the latest big thing for the demographic living in mom's basement.

I'm not here to judge, only to alert.